Internal creative services organizations often deal with clients who not only request work, but also request particular resources. While this is not intrinsically good or bad, it can lead to resource utilization imbalances and potentially to bad matches between projects and skill sets.

First, let's look at some of the pitfalls.

Workload Imbalance Often one or two business units account for a large percentage of overall projects. If this is the case, and resources are 'assigned' to those business units, those resources may be overloaded with work, while others are underutilized. This can be managed by off-loading appropriate projects, or portions of projects, to other resources, but it's still a challenge. A second cause of imbalance can be caused by the natural fluctuation of workload. Even business units that create many projects may have slow periods that, again, require careful usage of resources in order to keep utilization up.

Client Dissatisfaction Even though clients tend to like having the same resources work on their projects, when crunch time hits, it may take longer to deliver to their expectations compared to always assigning available and appropriate resources.

Skill set misalignment When creative resources are assigned to projects because of business unit alignment they may be asked to do projects that don't really fit their skill set. For example, a high-end designer may spend much of her time doing production art due to the types of projects coming from the business unit. Or, a web designer may be asked to develop content, not just web design.

So, when is it appropriate to align resources with business clients? This certainly varies from company to company, but there are three main reasons that this may be the right strategy.

Subject Matter Knowledge In many diversified companies, there is knowledge that is specific to a business unit that is important to consider in creative projects. This is most evident when marketing copy is being created for new projects. This is usually the most appropriate alignment, since good copy requires not just content, but "voice" that is appropriate to the business unit. A familiarity with the business is often invaluable and results in much more efficient and effective copy development. In general, this is not as important for design and web work, though it still may be a consideration for those resources. Many companies use this type of alignment, but use those resources for other projects when their workload allows.

Work Volume If a business unit has enough work, on a consistent basis, to keep a resource, or team close to full utilization, it may make sense to assign that resource or team exclusively to that business. In some cases this may even mean co-locating with the business as a satellite arm of the creative organization.

Location Finally, with many creative organizations today being virtual, and in multiple locations within the enterprise, it may make sense to have creative resources or teams aligned with business units in the same location. This may not be possible, or desirable due to the mix or resources in each location, but, if the mix is right, it allows for more face time and relationship building with the clients, which is always a good thing.

When a creative organization is serving multiple business units across the enterprise, it's important to look at the best delivery model possible. This may involve aligning resources with particular business units, or all projects may come in to a central intake point for distribution to the most appropriate resources based on skill set and workload. The most important thing is to establish a clearly defined delivery model that will best meet the needs of your diverse customer base.